Rebuilding on the Fly – Part 4 – 1st Round Draft Targets

In this series, I’ve contemplated how the Canucks could achieve their “rebuild on the fly” goal of winning now while incrementally moving towards becoming a contender again. 

In the first part of the series, I argued that the Canucks should look to move Chris Higgins, the rights to Shawn Matthias, and 2016 UFA’s Radim Vrbata, Kevin Bieksa, and Dan Hamhuis in exchange for draft picks (2 x late 1st, 2 x 2nds, a 5th and a prospect) and $16.6M in cap space. In the second and third parts of the series, I looked at unrestricted free agent targets worth looking at on forward and on defense. 

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In a recent post, I introduced the concept of Prospect Cohort Success % (PCS%) and Prospect Cohort Success Points-per-game (PCS Pts/GM) which are quantitative metrics to better evaluate draft prospects. I’ll be using them here to identify players the Canucks should target. The basic theory is that if you look at the closest comparables to a particular prospect in terms of age, height, points per game, and league, the insights you learn from that prospect’s peers can be informative when assessing their likelihood of future success. 

Join me after the jump to see some players that PCS% flags as potential first round targets.

Using PCS% to Maximize Draft Pick Value

After the theoretical trades above, the Canucks go into the 2015 draft with the following picks: 

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Round # of picks
1 3
2 2
4 1
5 3
6 1

Now, in reality, if they did make the moves I’ve proposed, they’d likely take some of these as 2016/17 picks rather than all in 2015. They also should consider whether or not they can package some of these picks to move up in the draft. While Eichel and McDavid will clearly be off the table, if there’s a package that could put them in the vicinity of drafting a Strome, Marner, Hanifin, or Barzal, the Canucks should absolutely consider it. However, for the simplicity of this exercise I’ve assumed they’ll keep the picks and have targeted players accordingly. 

I’ve used the current consensus ranks from Corey Pronman, Craig Button, CSS, ISS, McKeens, Future Considerations, and Hockey My process will be simple: aggregate the consensus rankings and highlight the best players available by PCS% and PCS Pts/GM. 

Round 1 

Name Position Team League Consensus P/GM PCS% PCS P/GM PCS N
Evgeni Svechnikov LW Cape Breton Screaming Eagles QMJHL 16 1.42 50% 0.48 27
Anthony Beauvillier LW/C Shawinigan Cataractes QMJHL 26 1.40 38% 0.52 42
Daniel Sprong RW Charlottetown Islanders QMJHL 20 1.29 37% 0.48 98
Filip Chlapik C Charlottetown Islanders QMJHL 33 1.17 35% 0.49 101
Michael Spacek C HC Pardubice Czech 38 0.30 33% 0.61 32
Nick Merkley C Kelowna Rockets WHL 17 1.25 32% 0.46 68
Jansen Harkins C Prince George Cougars WHL 21 1.13 29% 0.47 118

Many of the names above may be familiar to Canucks Army faithful. Recently, Rhys had an excellent piece last week on Beauvillier, Harkens, and Rasmus Andersson, which I highly recommend reading (especially the links). I’ve written on Sprong and Merkley in the past, as well as Spacek, so I won’t spend a a lot of re-hashing prior articles, but needless to say throughout the remainder of the season each of these players continued to build open very solid draft years since I last reported on them. 

Filip Chlapik made his debut in the QMJHL this year, having played in the prior year for HC Sparta Praha in the Czech U20 league. He’s also represented the Czech Republic internationally at the U16, U17, and U18 levels. To gain a bit of insight into how this season went for him in the QMJHL, I reached out to Jerome Berube,’s head scout for the QMJHL. 

Berube praised Chlapik as a solid two way forward, who makes
smart plays at both ends of the ice. Based on prior viewings, Berube had
expected Chlapik to be more of a defensive specialist, but noted that Chlapik
was solid offensively, even outshining highly touted teamate Daniel Sprong in some viewings. According
to Berube, the main aspect of the game which is holding him back is his skating,
which needs work, and could result in him slipping out of the first round. 

For me, this review was pretty encouraging. Chlapik’s offensive production was solid enough to result in a very strong PCS% and PCS P/GM, so hearing that his defensive play is well developed, bodes well for his chances. As we’ve seen with Bo Horvat, skating is an area where prospects can develop significantly over time, so this may be an opportunity to grab at a spot lower than they deserve. 

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In my opinion, the real gem of this group, and likely a pipe dream, is Evgeni Svechnikov. His highest ranking came from Corey Pronman at #9, while the rest had him rated in the high teens and low twenties. He has roughly same frame as Lawson Crouse, but a much higher PCS%, due to his scoring prowess he demonstrated this year. I asked Berube about Svechnikov as well, and he characterized Svechnikov as a pure offensive guy, with high end upside, shot, and vision. Like with Chlapik, Berube noted that Svechnikov’s skating needs work. Berube also noted that Svechnikov started the year injured, and was passed over by the Russian national team for the world juniors, both of which could negatively impact his draft stock, but Berube expects that Svechnikov could be dominant next season. 

There were many comments in the first few parts of this series expressing concern around moving Vrbata and Hamhuis, and replacing them with talent available on the UFA market. The real value of these moves would be in acquiring the 1st round picks enabling them to land a Jansen Harkins, Filip Chlapik, or maybe even an Evgeni Svechnikov if they get lucky. 

Many of you will quite rightly note the lack of elite defense prospects in the Canucks system and wonder why I haven’t tried to address this with the 3 theoretical first round selections available. The answer is that in this particular draft, there is very strong depth on defense, many of the ones we most highly covet will be available in the second round. These players will be the focus of my next installment, and 5th part of this series. 

Other Articles in this Series


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  • andyg

    Depends on your idea of what a bad team is. You can argue that no team in the league is bad. They are a first round team and the proof is already in the pudding. In fact, all the Canadian teams are merely first round teams, not capable of going deep into the play offs.

    You miss a few play offs a year and grab good picks? The Canucks will never have the will to make that sacrifice. Heck they don’t even develop players properly and their key plays from their last sc run are gone. Text book how to kill your own team 101.

    If you have such a hard time with the obvious, why bother trying to rationalize how to fix a team? It’s like you spend your time dreaming up ways to fix a jalopy into a Ferrari but you refuse to see that it’s just a jalopy. You can’t turn a jalopy into a Ferrari, no matter how hard you try.

  • d.sampson56

    Canucks should look for goal scoring right wingers in the first round.
    I would like to see them move up in the draft to oilers or buffalos mid firsts spot and go after konecny, who has great hands and speed. Hes also a relative of horvats.
    If the league is going to try 3 on 3 at some point he should be in the mix.
    this guy would be a good fit.

    he isnt the biggest player but plays above his size of 5.10, and we are starting to see more undersized players in the league.
    yes hes an overager this year at 20 , but hes got all world skill. This guy can singl handedly earn you points in the shootout, shorthanded and just blowing by the dmen.
    Pure scoring ability is something the canucks are in need of, as everyone is, but considering year after year canucks always seem to have scoring issues this guy should get serious consideration
    buffalo and edmonton are both looking for goalies, we have what they need.
    As well both need veteran defensive presence. We have that too.
    I would like to see canucks dump miller but I just dont see bennings doing that to miller since they go way back , as well miller would prolly prefer to go south if asked to waive ntc.

  • d.sampson56

    Heres my theory of whats going to happen in Arizona.
    When the team was bought from the NHL there was a clause in the deal for the new owner that if they lost 50 million in the first 5 years they could move the team. In this first year of ownership they have already sustained 25 million in losses.
    To me it seems obvious whats going on here.
    Gutting the team is nothing but a winning scenario for the new owner.
    Las vegas is presently building an NHL arena. (Coincidence?) No.
    After next seasons over , Arizona will most likely have reached the 50 million in losses , thus having the right to move the team.
    They will be the Las Vegas Coyotes in 2016/17 or the year after.
    So getting to my pointhere, canucks should give up this years first round pick and what ever else Arizona wants for their 2016 first round pick.
    My prediction here is that Arizona is going to be at or near the bottom of the standings at the end of 2016 which is by design.
    That pick will be in the lottery for 1st overall 2016 , with the likes of austin mathews or tkachuk.
    This in my mind is what the canucks should be trying to go for.
    Mark my words. This is the Las Vegas Coyotes plan, and Bettman is all in on it.
    Just to add to this , Nhl is fully aware of teams by design TANKING.
    He signed the sale of the Pheonix Coyotes , knowing full well what the new owners were going to do, in fact it was probably a selling feature. Tanking by design , with expressed written consent of the NHL.
    So if the canucks were smart they should be trying to get the 2016 yotes first round pick, and seize the play.

    My proposal of giving them our 1st for 2015 and our 1st for 2016 for there 2016 1st round pick would work for both.